It was reasonable to view Matt Strahm as the Royals' top pitching prospect prior to his callup at the end of July, given Kyle Zimmer's recurring shoulder issues. However, Strahm had so much success as a reliever following his promotion that the Royals may simply see an elite late-inning arm who they have under control for six more years and be satisfied. Among relievers that threw 20-plus innings last year, Strahm ranked fifth in ERA (1.23), eighth in FIP (2.06) and 16th in strikeout rate (34.1 percent). The move to the bullpen certainly allowed his stuff to play up, as he was comfortably sitting in the mid-90s and touching 97 mph with his fastball in relief after sitting at 91-92 mph as a starter. Not surprisingly, his changeup and curveball both play quite nicely off 95 from the left side. His floor has been established as a shutdown setup man. Whether the Royals decide to get greedy and attempt to turn Strahm into a mid-rotation arm is to be determined.
Strahm was recalled from Triple-A Omaha on Friday. The Royals' bullpen was taxed heavily in their 13-inning loss to Texas on Thursday, and with the left-handed pitching prospect being eligible to return from the minors Friday, he'll head back to Kansas City. Strahm will look to carry his four scoreless outings with the Storm Chasers into this next stint with the Royals. To make room for him on the roster, Raul Mondesi was sent back to Triple-A.
Strahm, who was demoted to Triple-A Omaha due to early-season struggles, is eligible to return to the Royals on Friday, and may be recalled after the team's bullpen was taxed during Thursday's 13-inning contest, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports. Although the southpaw was expected to spend a bit longer refining his game in the minors, the Royals may be forced to take him back prematurely. Left-handers Mike Minor (38 pitches over three innings) and Travis Wood (31 pitches in 1.1 innings) were spent in Thursday's extra-inning affair, and with the bullpen already down to seven pitchers, the need for another arm -- especially a lefty -- seems to be a necessary move.
According to Royals manager Ned Yost, Strahm's performance issues were more mental than physical, and the skipper expects the lefty to return to the big-league club in due time, MLB.com's Jeffrey Flanagan reports. The club's No. 1 prospect, Strahm was sensational as a rookie in 2016, posting a 1.23 ERA in 21 games. But in three outings this season, the 25-year-old gave up seven earned runs over 1.1 innings while allowing four hits and issuing six walks. "We just want to let [Strahm] get down there [to Triple-A Omaha] in a less pressured environment, and get him back to who he is," Yost said. "We built this bullpen with him right in the middle of it. We need him to be him. Send him down, get it straightened out, get him back up." The manager also mentioned that he doesn't believe Strahm is that far away from returning.
Strahm was optioned to Triple-A Omaha on Tuesday. Strahm's season hasn't gotten off to the best start. Over three games (1.1 innings) he's given up seven runs and been tagged with two losses. Control has been one of his biggest weaknesses as he's allowed more walks (six) than hits (four) during his limited usage.
Strahm took his second loss of the season after giving up the winning run in the 12th inning of Sunday's 5-4 loss to the Astros. He surrendered one hit and three walks while recording two outs. The Royals were counting on Strahm, their top pitching prospect, to serve as a key setup man to closer Kelvin Herrera this season, but the 25-year-old couldn't have gotten off to a worse start to the campaign. He's now allowed more runs (seven) than he's recorded outs (four), with a lack of command responsible for most of his struggles. If he fails to straighten things out soon, Strahm could soon be demoted to Triple-A Omaha.
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